LEDBURY people say there "is no shortage of love" in the town for refugees, following the heart-warming launch of a collection for clothes and other essentials.

The collection actually started ahead of the first meeting of Ledbury Refugee Support, set to take place at Handley Organics in the High Street, on Thursday evening.

But a Facebook call for items on Tuesday, September 8, led to 25 donations in the first six hours: from tents and sleeping bags to new shoes and toiletries.

Speaking at Handley Organics, where the donations were still arriving, Ledbury's mayor, Cllr Annette Crowe said: "We have been inundated. I am so proud of the response of Ledbury people, but I am not amazed, as Ledbury people have a big heart.

"This is something for everyone to get involved with."

The items will all be transported to a depot in Gloucestershire, where they will be shipped to Calais and Turkey.

Group member, former town councillor, Richard Hadley said of the refugees: "They are not coming to scrounge, they are coming to Europe to save their lives.

"There is no shortage of love here. We should be looking after our friends in Syria and Iraq. This is a small act of love."

Group member, Sarah Blenkinsop said: "They are human beings, in desperate trouble."

Inspecting the mounting pile of donations, Mrs Blenkinsop said: "At the moment the problem is logistics. How do we store all this stuff?"

But the group is still urging people to dig deep and give.

Caroline Handley said she had "personal reasons" for getting involved and allowing her shop to be used for the collections and the meeting.

She added: "I am willing to take two families into my own home."

At present, however, there are very few refugees in Herefordshire.

And the small number of refugees in the county are not being supported directly by Herefordshire Council.

A council spokesman said: "We do not currently have any refugee’s within the county which we support.

"There are a small number that have been placed here and paid for by other local authorities. As the numbers of these are low they are potentially identifiable, therefore the figure cannot be disclosed."

The UK Government says it will take in an average of 4,000 refugees a year, over five years; but Ledbury Refugee Support points to the example of Germany which has pledged to take half a million refugees a year for the foreseeable future, and members have written to local MP, Bill Wiggin, to voice their concerns.

Mr Wiggin said the situation is still under debate and he pointed to the high levels of financial aid being offered by the UK.

Mr Wiggin said: "I firmly believe we should do everything we can including using our International Aid budget to alleviate the sufferings of the refugees fleeing the Syrian conflict.

"With regard to immigration into the UK and the final numbers there are three more debates this week where the Government may reveal more details. That is why I support the Prime Minister’s statement on Monday, September 7, in the House of Commons to help refugees from within the camps, rather than throwing open the borders to people who have already paid for traffickers to transport them across the globe."

He added: "I also feel strongly that those people who do not respect our boundaries and borders should be treated differently to those who do respect them and are vulnerable.

"We need to understand the difference between people who are breaking into the UK as economic migrants and those refugees who are fleeing from Isil and war in Syria."

Mr Wiggin added: "We are the second largest donor of aid to the Syrian conflict after the USA and that additional funding announced this week takes UK aid spending, on the conflict victims, to over £1 billion.

"I am proud of the fantastic amount of money we have spent on Syrian refugees.”